Authoritarian parenting

This evening as I was doing the washing up, I found myself thinking about power and control.

So many parents think that to have authority you need to be authoritarian. The truth is that authority does not come from having power over someone. It comes from understanding your power in relation to someone else and standing in it with integrity.

Being a parent is an inherently powerful position. Your children are utterly dependent on you for many years. It’s easy to slip into authoritarian ways when our sense of power is at risk.

I know this because I have walked this path many times.

As we feel our influence slipping we look for the route that will put us back in a place of power. And most of the time this leads us down the authoritarian path of exerting our power over our child.

True authority walks alongside our child having power with them.

True authority is able to listen and explore and not feel threatened.

True authority is able to trust the process of childhood even when it is laden with apparent mistakes and poor choices.

Authority is rooted deeply within us. When we forget that truth we look for the external representation of authority and we find authoritarian words and actions that uproot us and leave us floundering.

There’s no shame in this. It is an out working if unresolved trauma. Our children continue to offer us an invitation to heal over and over again.

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